Douglas L Gregg (1927 - 2015)

Obituary
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  • "Just learned of Doug's death. He was my first high school..."
    - Mary Ely
  • "My sincere condolences on loss of your dear loved one. May..."
  • "My beloved friend Doug was my classmate at Jay Hi (as we..."
    - Beverly Lane
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    - Shawn Hatt Cohen
  • "Deepest condolences to the Gregg family."
    - Brad Cummings
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Douglas L. Gregg

The long and remarkable life of Douglas Larson Gregg came to its earthly end July 21, 2015, at the Juneau Pioneers Home.
Doug was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, January 6, 1927, to James and Inez (Larson) Gregg. When he was young, the family moved west, following work for his musician father. In Seattle, Doug grew to love the water and the distant mountains. He also early on fell in love with the guitar, which he continued to play all his life.

A gig playing music on a steamship brought the senior Gregg to Juneau, and soon Doug and his mother followed. Doug always described Juneau in the late '30's as a paradise, and he never really changed his opinion. He described his childhood as an incredibly happy one, fishing, hunting, and always playing music, and his loving relationship with his parents was a touchstone of his entire life.
Toward the end of World War II, Doug dropped out of high school-where he'd been elected Senior Class president-and joined the Merchant Marine. He traveled to the east coast, to Germany, and the Philippines, eventually returning home and finishing high school. He fell in love with another high school senior, Lily Ann Maurstad, and shortly after graduation, they left for Seattle and were married on September 13, 1947. Doug began playing in clubs around Seattle. Jobs weren't easy to come by, but he and his jazz guitar style enjoyed some successes. He played back-up guitar for performers coming through Seattle, including Sammy Davis Jr. and was friends with the young Ray Charles, known as RC in those days. Doug was the first white musician to play at Seattle's Black and Tan Club.

Shortly after the birth of their first daughter, Susi, Doug and Lily returned to Juneau where Doug worked a variety of jobs, from pumping oil to commercial fishing, eventually getting on with Pan American World Airways ending up as their field manager. He still worked nights at gigs at different venues around Juneau, sometimes playing with his dad, sometimes with other musicians.
The chance gift of a book on the law and literature inspired Doug with the beauty and power of the law, and he set himself a new goal. With no college background, and with a full time job and a family which now included two more children, Jan and Walt, the idea of becoming a lawyer might easily have seemed an impossible dream, but Doug was determined. He "read for the law," in the tradition of Abraham Lincoln as well as many notable Alaska attorneys in "the old days." He studied nights while working full time and was eventually able to leave Pan American Airlines to work as a full time law clerk, first for Howard Stabler and his wife Gladys and eventually moving to the territorial Attorney General's Office. He took the bar exam in 1958, passed it, and on February 2, 1959, was sworn into the Alaska Bar.

Doug was the first person in Alaska to know that President Eisenhower had signed the Alaska Statehood Act. The signing happened on the weekend, and when Senator Bartlett's office couldn't get through to the Governor's office with the news, they called the Attorney General's Office where Doug was working and asked him to carry the message. Although by the time Doug reached the Governor's office, the call had gone through, he was invited to stay for Bill Egan's swearing in as governor of the new state of Alaska.

Doug's reputation as an attorney was sterling. When he retired after 40 years of legal practice, then presiding Judge Larry Weeks remarked, "If more attorneys practiced law the way Doug Gregg has, the profession would be in a lot better shape and the people would be much better served." Many attorneys with whom he practiced over the years either as partners or other colleagues, have echoed Judge Weeks' remarks.

Lily and Doug celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary before her death in 1992. In 1994, he married Anne Chase of Gustavus and they lived together until her move to the Juneau Pioneers Home in 2011. He remained at home until August of 2014 when he, too, moved there.

Well into his eighties, Doug continued as guitarist with the Thunder Mountain Big Band. When the schedule became too much for him, musician friends included him in their Saturday afternoon Dixieland band sessions at "Big Blue." When he wasn't playing music himself, Doug was usually listening to it. Jazz and old standards were his particular passion, but he also loved classical works. He loved the Juneau Symphony, the Thunder Mountain Big Band, the annual Gospel Choir sponsored by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, the Juneau Jazz and Classics events, and listening to the musical explorations of his kids, grandkids and great-grandchildren.

Doug was predeceased by his parents, Jim and Inez Gregg and his first wife Lily. He is survived by his wife Anne Gregg; his children Susi Gregg Fowler (Jim), Jan Gregg Levy (Keith), and Walter Gregg; his grandchildren Jacob Soboleff, Nathan Soboleff (Angie Wright), Madeline Soboleff Levy (Trinidad Contreras), Abraham Levy (Mikaela), and Micaela Fowler, all of Juneau, and Angie Fowler Williams (John) of Brooklyn, New York; and great grandchildren Callahan, Cedar, Hayden, Riley, Cora, Sofia, Elijah, Jillian, and Chava, and his little dog Cassie. He is also survived by his sister-in-law Harriet Maurstad Klein (Jim) and family, brother-in-law John Lite (Margo) and family, many cousins around the country, and by his wife Anne's children Sylvia Petersen (Doc), Gloria Chase, Don Chase, and Robert Chase (Mary Ann), all of Gustavus, and their children and grandchildren, along with many dear friends.

Doug lived his last eleven months in the Juneau Pioneers Home. While he continued to have daily visits from family members, the Juneau Pioneers Home staff became another family-treating him with love, tenderness, and respect, and embracing his family as well. While dementia may have dimmed his memory, his open heart only grew, and his generosity of spirit and graceful acceptance and gratitude humbled and taught us.

A service to remember Doug will be held at Northern Light United Church on Wednesday, July 29, at 2:00 p.m. followed by a short reception in the Fellowship Hall. There will be a private burial at Evergreen Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, friends are invited to give to the Juneau Pioneers Home Foundation, any of the arts groups mentioned above, or to a .
Religious Service Information
Northern Light United Church
400 W 11th St
Juneau, AK 99801
(907) 586-3131
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Published in The Juneau Empire from July 24 to Aug. 23, 2015
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